When You Are 22 And Job-hunting, Look For These 5 Hidden Perks
A recent trend doing the rounds on LinkedIn, the biggest professional networking site, has intrigued us a lot. It asks you what you would do if you were 22 again and the responses are pretty diverse. Opinions have been pouring in from C-suite guys to recent pass-outs, interns and mid-to-senior level executives. And the most striking concept I have come across till date is someone wanting to change job every month (for worthy reasons, of course). While that seems to be an extreme case, people in their early 20s are known to job-hop more than is good for professional health. Most of us do it for a bit of a raise or a better job profile – well, who wouldn’t if you get a custom-made position, instead of slogging at your old job and hoping to reach that slot someday? Some do it as they get bored with what they have been doing while others simply jump ship to avoid a toxic work culture, a bad boss or a combo of both.
Whatever be your reason for job-hopping even when you are just one or two-job old (even HR guys consider it most natural for you to look around during this time to achieve career growth), do not be led by money alone or assumption of power. Salary rise becomes a routine all too soon and indulging in power play at office may actually hurt your learning graph, leadership qualities and ultimately your professional integrity.
Moreover, top dollars and plum posts won’t be easy to come by. The Indian job market has been sluggish for some time now, as per ILO findings. Unemployment rate in India has risen from 3.5% in 2011 to 3.7% in 2013 and it may further increase to 3.8%, according to the Global Employment Trends 2014 report. Of course, there are positive vibes all around and hiring across sectors is likely to warm up significantly under the new government led by Narendra Modi. In fact, the job market is expected to grow at least 30% this fiscal. All that is good news, but the broader economic growth doesn’t see an instant change and it may take quite some time before you can pick and choose your next job. But don’t lose heart. With every job offer you get, comes some hidden perks although you may not be aware of them.
It is true that our perception has been different till date and take-home salary has always ranked high on an employee’s priority list. Employees in India prefer a competitive salary and related benefits over career progression, according to a 2014 employees’ perception survey, conducted by global human resource company Randstad. That is in sync with the global traits, the survey says, but have you ever tried asking your HR guy whether your company offers the following benefits that can actually ensure your overall growth? If you swear by the G word (read growth) at workplace and your current job doesn’t offer these 5 hidden perks, make sure you get them when you are looking for a change next time.
1. Do you get performance-based rewards?
In sales jargon, they call it incentive and most of the C-suite guys are also entitled to it. However, most companies prefer to pay a flat amount if they are under a contractual obligation to pay bonus. Others simply skip it if it is not there in your appointment letter. But there are exceptions as well. Some companies offer project-specific incentives or split profits (but these are mostly start-ups) to keep their employees happy and motivated.
In the first company that I joined as an intern, no one was entitled to bonus but a token amount was handed over each year, based on one’s performance. Mind you, it was not a flat amount and varied from person to person. But it really kept us motivated and also acted as a timely warning. If we got an abysmally low amount or landed up in the ‘no-cheque zone,’ it was time to do some self-scrutiny and act upon it. As the annual performance appraisal was nearly 6 months away (the incentive used to come around Diwali), there was plenty of time to move up the performance scale or to look around, find a more suitable position and quit without feeling too hurt.
2. Can you play the strategist?
Well, we don’t mean you are going to do the CEO-level stuff. But do you have the freedom to ideate and brainstorm every now and then? Will the company top brass (or at least your own line manager) have the time and patience to listen to you? Do they acknowledge the value of your ideas and try to get them implemented? If the answer is ‘no’ in most of the cases, it is quite likely that you are working like an organisational cog, instead of sharing your company’s vision and goals. If that is the case, you will soon lose motivation and work will suffer consequently.
However, it is wrong to assume that only big corporations fall victim to ‘communication failure.’ It does happen in a 10-strong company if one person chooses to take over the meeting procedure and others are just too polite/scared/disinterested to intervene. In contrast, some big companies keep ‘idea boxes’ and pass them around for you to contribute and participate. If your firm does that, don’t shy away from that extra effort. Taking an active interest in your company’s well being is a smart move that will take you far.
3. Do they run an innovation lab at workplace?
Strategy is often limited to your own projects, but innovation has no limit. Your company may not do it the Google way and allow you to work on random projects outside your immediate duty zone (well, as per Quartz, even Google has effectively done away with the ‘20% time,’ which allowed its employees to take one day a week to work on independent projects). But do you get a fair chance to work on your ‘interest’ areas without hurting your productivity? Can you stretch your capabilities and learn new skills? Enhance processes? Put your creativity to work and ‘innovate’ something that will benefit your company?
Although a risky proposition (most project managers will term it as ‘messing up’), employee ‘me-time’ can be highly rewarding if the person involved has the right kind of focus and enthusiasm. What’s more, if you are good enough in your new avatar, you can easily seek ‘change’ within the company and start growing. All of us have seen people who love to get out of their comfort zone and do something new in order to prove themselves. If your company supports it and encourages an ‘open house’ culture, that’s the best thing you can ever desire.
4. What is the happiness quotient?
Once again, we come back to the company culture and how much it cares for you. Your new organisation may have an irresistible culture that makes work fun, exciting and challenging. On the other hand, it may feel like a daily grind that you could be too eager to escape. While a newcomer should be ready to work hard and grow in more ways than one, is the organisation ready to welcome you on board as one of them? Do you have a mentor from Day I who will help you learn new things and handhold you to success? Do you have good leaders who genuinely care about you, your professional growth and your personal well being? Do you get enough praise in public and reprimands only in private? And finally, does your organisation share both rewards and pain with its employees? After all, there are plenty of companies that put their people in ‘pressure cooker’ situation all the time, without praising the efforts of the employees.
All these answers may not be forthcoming within the first day or two, but a close look at your co-workers will soon help you understand the company’s EQ and happiness quotient. Every company has its own way of dealing with corporate politics, policies and procedures. If you have seniors who can navigate you safely through these potential landmines, motivate you throughout the daily slog and provide plenty of opportunities to go up the growth ladder, accept that job and stick to it, no matter what others say.
5. Can you break the proverbial glass wall?
It has got nothing to do with the done-to-death, gender-related stories of the corporate world. Sure, they may happen to you when you reach that coveted level. But you will find the proverbial glass wall almost everywhere irrespective of gender bias. For instance, if you are a coding wizard and want to be a project manager, your line manager may not want to let you go as it looks like a lose-lose situation. You will be prone to make mistakes in your new role while your manager loses an efficient employee who has been doing his/her job commendably all this time. On the other hand, a growth dead wall is bound to drive an ambitious person out.
Here is one professional dilemma that most companies and most individuals suffer from. When a former colleague was working for a small publication house and wanted to expand her role beyond everyday operations, the CEO was openly unimpressed. “We are a small organisation and there’s not much scope for doing anything else,” he said during the appraisal. The same happened to a guy in a large firm that would not expand one of its units and refused to allocate funds for digital branding. In about a year, that unit shut down.
In all these cases, you can clearly see where the glass wall is. As one start-up CEO once told me, “The problem is not in the budget. It’s the mindset. You want to play it safe and get the maximum out of your employees with minimum investment. But that’s against the business law – great returns don’t come without good investments. Reward your people with growth and your company will surely advance.” If your organisation walks the talk like this CEO does, you have it what so many others desire. Stay put in this job and let your dreams grow.
Images: Thinkstock/Getty Images
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